This is a very rare photograph of former Bartitsu Club instructor Pierre Vigny, at the age of 60, posing between his friends and fellow physical culture enthusiasts Edouard Jaccard (aged 69, left) and 67 year old Georges Lambert (right).
After his tenure as chief instructor at the Bartitsu Cub in London, Vigny went on to establish his own fencing and self defence academy in the English capital, returning to Geneva a year or two prior to the outbreak of the First World War. Little is known about his later life, but this photograph from an article in “La Tribune de Genève” demonstrates that he was still in good health in 1929.
The article notes that the three senior athletes enjoyed running together in the countryside around Geneva, and that they all had hearty appetites. It goes on to mention that Vigny and Lambert had fought a “Homeric” boxing bout in 1888, Vigny suffering a twisted knee when he slipped during the match. In December of 1919, the article continues, Vigny had survived a potentially fatal tram accident due to the reflexes and constitution developed over a lifetime as a physical culture and self defence enthusiast.
Some scenes from the upcoming Bartitsu documentary, scheduled for release in early 2010. These shots are from a re-enactment of a Jiujitsuffragette “Bodyguard” training session circa 1913.
The Sherlock Holmes Handbook: the Methods and Mysteries of the World’s Greatest Detective is a new book in the “cleverly themed how-to” genre. Taking its inspiration from the adventures of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic investigator, the book offers hints and tips on “How to Use Deductive Reasoning”, “How to Master a Dozen Disguises” and, of course, “How to Defend Yourself”.
The latter section includes a quick summary of Bartitsu lore, correctly identifying Holmes’ “baritsu” primarily with Japanese unarmed combat, although not clarifying that Bartitsu actually included boxing, savate, wrestling and stick fighting as well. However, further items in the self defence section refer to Holmes’ abilities as a boxer, fencer and singlestick fighter, and offer very basic instruction in each of these areas.
A great Christmas gift for Holmes/Bartitsu aficionados, and a great companion piece to “the Art of Manliness” (see previous post).
In 2008 the popular Art of Manliness website featured an extensive article on Bartitsu. An expanded version of that article appears in the new Art of Manliness book, available from Amazon.com.
Generation X and Y is a generation of Lost Boys. We live in a Never-Never-Land where boys stay boys and never become men. More and more males today are putting off college, family, and adult responsibilities in order to play video games and do keg stands. The Art of Manliness is dedicated to helping men uncover what manliness means in the 21st century. What skills and knowledge should a 21st century man acquire? What traits should they develop? This book will have the answers.
Further filming for the upcoming Bartitsu documentary took place recently in Switzerland, London and Northumberland. The Swiss shoot was managed by Ran A. Braun and Tony Wolf, while in London Wolf was ably assisted by Lawrence Carmichael.
Interviews were held in London with Dr. Emelyne Godfrey, and in Northumberland with martial arts historians Harry Cook and Graham Noble.
Additional footage was shot in Shaftesbury Avenue, the location of the original Bartitsu Club; Kingston-on-Thames cemetery, the site of E.W. Barton-Wright’s grave; Leicester Square, outside the Empire Theatre where Barton-Wright held some of his early Bartitsu exhibitions, and other locations.
Further filming is scheduled to take place in Italy, the USA and the UK over the next month. Stay tuned for details!
The new Bartitsu newspaper archive includes over two hundred pages from the Daily Mirror and Daily Express newspapers, mostly dating from the first years of the 20th century.
Many of the references are just snippets, but there are some more substantial articles in the archive as well.
Suggested search-terms include: Bartitsu, Barton-Wright, Vigny, Tani, Uyenishi, Cherpillod, savate, jiujitsu, judo, self defence.
Between September 9-13, the beautiful 19th century campus of the DeKoven Center (Racine, Wisconsin) was the venue for the 10th annual Western Martial Arts Weekend conference. This was the first year that Bartitsu was included in the WMAW lineup.
The conference was sold out some months in advance, having attracted a record-breaking 160 participants from 6 countries. As we enjoyed perfect weather every day, almost all of the classes took place under the oak trees on the DeKoven Center lawns, with 4 classes of (typically) 40 students each training in a panoply of Western martial arts disciplines. Students were able to choose classes from four “tracks” including Fundamentals, Medieval Martial Arts, Renaissance and Early Modern Martial Arts and Close-Quarters Combat.
The 3-hour Bartitsu seminar took place on the morning of Day 4 and began with a precis of the cultural history of Bartitsu. The three major “themes” of this seminar were initiative control via pre-emptive striking/feinting and invitation, alignment control via efficient biomechanics and the process of martial improvisation.
We began with a series of basic exercises in alignment – using one’s own posture and skeletal structure, represented as a triangle, to control a partner’s triangle to the point of imbalance. These exercises were then formalised into a selection of basic boxing and savate techniques and into some examples of canonical jiujitsu kata.
The neo-Bartitsu process of “twisting” canonical sequences into improvisational exercises was then applied to the kata, and subsequently to a series of Bartitsu stick fighting set-plays. Participants were challenged to spontaneously recover the initiative after “something goes wrong” with the set-play (for example, the opponent defeats a particular technique; how to flow with the disruption and re-establish control of the fight?)
I was very happy with the students’ progress and particularly enjoyed working with some fellow Bartitsu practitioners from clubs in Seattle and San Francisco, who also asked for an informal private lesson.
In all, WMAW 2009 bodes very well for the continued growth of interest and enthusiasm for Bartitsu in the wider Western martial arts community.
Mr. Reppion’s article is an entertaining and informative look at Bartitsu history and links to the Sherlock Holmes adventures and the women’s suffrage movement in the early years of the 20th century – recommended reading.